Following Christ This Summer

As I write this article, the first line of thoughts that came to mind were thanksgiving and gratitude for all your prayers as I recovered from the mild symptoms of the virus. The most difficult part was having to quarantine until I tested negative.

As June 21st marks the first day of summer, I am sure many have been and are continuing to enjoy the summer vacation as an opportunity to get away, relax, and spend some valuable time with friends and family. I too remember quite fondly the many vacations we would have as a family. I also remember the great example my parents gave us of making sure they knew the location of the Catholic Church in the area so that we would be able to attend Sunday Mass, making sure Jesus was an integral part of our family vacation.

My parents’ example helped me, and my siblings, understand at a young age what it truly means to be followers of Jesus Christ.

In this Sunday’s Gospel passage, one of the lessons Jesus teaches us about following him is that of setting our hands to the plow. This may not be an easy concept for us to understand, but for Jesus’ listeners, they would have known that plowing fields by hand was no easy task.

The farmer hitched the plow to oxen or cattle. As the animal made its way across the field, the farmer held the handles of the plow and pressed the blade into the ground, cutting a furrow that would later be used for planting. To make the best use of the field, the furrows had to be straight. To make sure the seeds would germinate, the furrows had to be deep. This meant keeping a firm and steady hand on the plow itself, for long periods of time.

It was slow work, and exhausting. Many times, a farmer would be tempted to take a rest or relax his grip. But the plowing and planting season was brief. If the farmers didn’t keep their hands to the plow, their harvest would be meager.

Following Christ is no different. Each day, as we set our hands to the plow of our faith, we are gently reminded that we are never plowing through life alone, but that Jesus is always with us to the end. That gives us the greatest assurances of hope that with Jesus, he will help make straight our crooked paths; that with Jesus at our side, he will help us through trying and difficult times that life throws our way; that with Jesus at our side, he will give us the encouragement and strength to keep moving forward even when we feel tempted to turn back. Following Jesus as the way, the truth and the life is never an easy task to do, but the rewards are out of this world. Jesus gives his Apostles and us this assurance in following him, “Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart; and you will find rest for yourselves. For my yoke is easy and my burden light”. (Mt. 11:28-30)

Knowing that this time of year, many of you will be traveling this summer, I want to assure you of my continued prayers for safe travels and may your vacation be a time of true renewal of mind, heart, body, and soul as you enjoy time with family and friends. Don’t forget to visit Jesus on Sunday, no matter where you are.

Peace in Christ,
Fr. John

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